Maine volunteers rescue over 300 cats and dogs from Puerto Rico

Volunteers from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland took part in a “Freedom Flight” with the non-profit organization Wings of Rescue.

WESTBROOK, Maine – The Greater Portland Animal Rescue League has more cats and dogs for adoption, thanks to a rescue effort over the weekend.

Last week, the ARLGP sent a handful of volunteers to Puerto Rico to help with a “freedom flight” through the non-profit organization Wings of Rescue. Together, they brought over 300 cats and dogs to shelters in Maine and New York. Jeana Roth, director of community engagement for the ARLGP, told the NEWS CENTER Maine that this was one of the biggest expeditions to date.

“A lot of these animals have lived in shelters or sanctuaries for years,” Roth said. “To give them this fresh start in Maine, it’s really great.”

The ARLGP received 61 cats and dogs in total. Canine team leader Faith Paglierani was one of the volunteers in Puerto Rico, visiting animal sanctuaries and shelters before transporting the animals to the mainland. She said Hurricane Maria damaged many of these places, making it difficult for them to accommodate animals. She added that there are around 500,000 stray dogs on the island at the moment as most are unfixed.

“I think seeing where they come from only reinforces that drive to get them into homes, to be able to be that resource and that safe place to land for dogs that started off on the wrong foot. [and] didn’t have the best chance of living,” Paglierani said.

“Saturday we saw a lot of scared animals, a lot of animals that didn’t know what was going on,” Roth said. “We’ve seen them blossom in just two days. We’ve seen them play with toys, run around, cuddle, ask for attention. Knowing they’ll [soon] hanging out with families is really the best thing for us.”

Roth said there are more rescue missions on the horizon since shelters in Maine have such high placements.

To learn more about the Greater Portland Animal Rescue League, click here.

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